READERS: Here’s a Brief Summary of ALL THREE Books:
In post-WWII Mississippi, a group of junior high white boys experience a menacing side of their small bayou town when they decide to include their Negro friend, T.J., in a crucial game against their cross-town rivals for domain over the school’s baseball diamond. Determined to move their Deep Southern town one step towards racial equality, the boys find themselves coming head to head with the hard lesson of learning how to love in the face of hate.
For the story’s main characters, identical twins Jimmy and Billy McGee, this is just one of many coming of age lessons they will experience as their teenage years proceed. The twins had always found novelty in looking and sounding alike and had always gotten along until girls entered their worlds. Suddenly, their lives’ primary focus switched from baseball to the opposite sex. In what seemed like overnight, life became a race for Jimmy and Billy to each establish his own identity in their fishbowl of a town. These struggles sparked a mini-series of drama both at school and at home but, perhaps, the most intense battles were fought over gaining their parents’ acceptance, as well as, one another’s blessing over their unparalleled plans after high school.
Jimmy, the more conventional of the two, planned to attend college at Ole Miss and pursue his dream of playing in the Major Leagues. Billy, however, saw a much grander path for himself and secretly enlisted in the United States Air Force with high hopes of being deployed to the Korean War zone. Little did either know that the impact their decisions would bring upon their relationship would prove irreversible.
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Here’s one of the poems Billy (a main character from my “Extra Innings” trilogy) wrote while he was stationed with the USAF in South Korea (during the Korean War/Korean Conflict: February 1953). I thought it was relevant considering the frigid winter weather we’ve been having here in Northeast Ohio (single digits).
When twilight comes in winter
A dreamland of blue is cast by the pale moon’s light.
Across the shimmering valley of silver
Silhouetted trees are at peace in the quilted hills of white.
Like childhood’s cozy bedtime
Nothing stirs and all is quiet.
So I pray “Oh night, live long and bear no fruit that breaks the dawn
For when there’s sun this all becomes a stage for men to die.”
I recently met a new friend. His name is Jimmy Watkins and he stationed with the Army over in South Korea during the “Korean Conflict” (aka Korean War) of 1950-1953. Jimmy shared with me some fascinating stories and literature from that place and time. Jimmy was generous enough to grant me permission to convey his personal experiences in Book 3 of my Extra Innings Trilogy as one of the main characters joins the USAF and is shipped off to Korea for the first third of the book. Thank you Jimmy for this brief window into your life’s exciting history.
Whoever has taken the journey through the climbs and tumbles of storytelling can attest that the creator is NOT the only writer of that story. What I’m about to share may qualify me to some as a bizarre. mental case, but it would only be fair to give a portion of the writing credit of Extra Innings to the fictional characters themselves. Certainly, I created identical twins Jimmy & Billy McGee and all their family, friends and enemies, however, I’m sure that any writer would agree that after a while, the characters begin to tell the story themselves. After some initial personality and circumstance development has been established, a characters’ behaviors and reactions to incidents flow far to easily for my naked brain to deserve all the credit. At times, I do recall moments of writer’s cramp in terms of plot direction and development, but once each incident was etched into words, the reaction of each character involved was told by them specifically. This is particularly illustrated in Book 3 (“A Hero Among Thieves”) which includes poetry and music written by Billy while he was away at USAF Boot Camp and stationed overseas in Korea. I’d love to consider myself a gifted writer, but I must give a great deal of credit to the fascinating characters who live and lived through the pages of the Extra Innings Trilogy.